Governor’s Press Release

ANNAPOLIS, MD (September 8, 1999) -- Declaring that the weekend’s large amount of rainfall had significantly reduced the potential for wildfires in Western Maryland, Governor Parris N. Glendening today announced that Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary Sarah Taylor-Rogers was immediately lifting the open-air burning ban that had been in effect for Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett Counties. The Governor’s announcement came as he released weekly drought monitoring figures, which showed that last week’s rainfall trimmed the State’s overall precipitation deficit and led to a slight increase in the State’s reservoir levels.

"Last weekend’s rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Dennis dramatically reduced the risk of wildfires in our western counties, and the remaining open-air burning restrictions are no longer necessary," said Governor Glendening. "I would like to thank residents and businesses in Western Maryland for their strong cooperation with the open-air burning ban. Thanks to the tremendous efforts of all Marylanders during our necessary water conservation and open-air burning restrictions, we no longer face either an immediate threat to our State’s water supplies or a high risk of wildfires."

On September 1, Governor Glendening lifted mandatory statewide water and open-air burning restrictions, but kept the open-air burning ban in effect for Western Maryland because that region had not yet received enough precipitation to reduce the risk of wildfires. Over the past weekend, however, Western Maryland received an unusual amount of rainfall, with many areas reporting over two inches. State Forestry officials and Secretary Taylor-Rogers determined that this rainfall, along with the cooler temperatures and higher humidity, had significantly lowered the KBDI (Keech-Byram Drought Index) readings for the four western counties. Secretary Taylor-Rogers concluded that the risk of wildfires had decreased enough to lift the mandatory ban.

The weekly drought monitoring figures (attached) detail the fifth full week of water conservation and water supply measurements since the Governor declared a statewide drought emergency. The figures indicate that last week’s light rains, plus the weekend’s drenching storms from the remnants of Hurricane Dennis, trimmed the State’s overall deficit by nearly 1.5 inches to 8.3 inches statewide. Last week, the rainfall deficit stood at 9.7 inches.

Stream flows, as anticipated, dissipated to lower levels after the previous week’s rainfalls receded. Stream flow returned to a statewide average level of 44.8% of normal for the week ending on September 4. However, significant rainfall in the ensuing three days dramatically increased stream flows to a statewide average of 216% of normal. As of September 7, nearly every river across the State flowed at a level above 100% of normal.

Water capacities in the State’s reservoirs climbed slightly throughout most of Maryland for the week ending September 4, and next week’s figures should show that the weekend rain continued to fill reservoir levels. However, most of the State’s reservoirs, particularly in the Baltimore metro area, remained below normal capacities.

As expected with the lifting of mandatory restrictions during the middle of last week, statewide water conservation decreased, averaging 10.5% below the 5-year average. The previous week had seen a 16% drop in water consumption.

"Although our water supplies are no longer in immediate danger, Maryland remains in a drought emergency," said the Governor. "Our farmers continue to suffer from the drought, and our water levels remain below normal. I ask Marylanders to continue their tremendous efforts to voluntarily save this precious resource and make water conservation a daily part of their lives."